Great Stuff — CTS Professor Authors Resource on End of Life Issues

For Immediate Release

Mercy_at_Lifes_End-webFORT WAYNE, Ind. (CTS)—Family members who must make end of life care decisions for their loved ones are faced with many questions and struggles.  In an effort to address those questions, and comfort those who make them, the Rev. Prof. John Pless, assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., has authored Mercy at Life’s End: A Guide for Laity and Their Pastors published by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Life Ministries.  The book can be downloaded free of charge by going to and clicking on the link in the middle of the page or clicking here. Information on ordering free copies of the book is found at the same location.

The booklet lays out a biblical understanding of these issues in light of God’s Law and Gospel while providing spiritual guidance for Christians faced with decisions regarding care and treatment when death appears imminent. A thoughtful critique of trends toward euthanasia and assisted suicide as ways of attempting to assert human autonomy and evade the last enemy is included, as well as questions to help provide clarification and assist family members who are charged with the responsibility of making decisions for a dying loved one.

This will make an excellent resource for a Bible class setting as well as in situations where the pastor is helping his people work toward God-pleasing decisions when death draws near. “Families and caregivers often feel the unexpected whiplash of confusion and crisis as they are forced to make end of life decisions,” commented Maggie Karner, director, LCMS Life and Health Ministries.  “This easy-to-read book presents a solid biblical framework for making ethical decisions for loved ones at the end of their earthly life.  It is designed to be used by both pastors in counseling and teaching, and by laypeople in their conversations as they plan ahead for these very difficult decisions.”

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff — CTS Professor Authors Resource on End of Life Issues — 4 Comments

  1. As I read through this wonderful book I kept hearing over and over again, as The Rev. William C. Weedon serving as The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) director of Worship and International Center chaplain has said many times:

    “We preach Christ and Him crucified!”

    This instructive book is a must read for all Christians. The book covers in logical order the critical points One should know, whether facing death or as a decision maker in helping another.

    The brevity of the book should not be taken as ” short cutting “. It is not as all topics are fully covered. A list is provided at the end of the book of resources for further study.

    Bravo! well done!

  2. I’m wondering if someone could help me out a little here. On page 12 of the document, talking about the “Futile Care Theory,” it says this:

    “Care must never be denied. Wesley Smith has noted the way in which “Futile CareTheory” has corroded traditional medical ethics: “Now, with Futile Care Theory, some hospital protocols require feeding tubes to be withdrawn from PVS patients, even over the objections of family decision makers and in spite of patient desires expressed in advance medical directives. Indeed, Dr. Ronald Cranford, the neurologist/bioethicist who promoted dehydration in the Cruzan, Michael Martin, and Robert Wendland cases, has acknowledged that these changes ‘proceeded’ in this ‘logical and incremental way.’ Further, Cranford expects the same pattern to unfold in the futility debate, although he expects wrangling to be ‘more complex and controversial’ than was the argument over whether it should be ethical to withhold food and fluids.”

    I am confused about the wording here and what this means. Is this saying that the 3 individuals listed should be denied food and fluids because of their “diagnosis?”

    I am Michael Martin’s sister-in-law, and I know the whole back-story to this case. And I categorically disagree that his feeding tube should have been pulled. And this is not due to misguided compassion. For one thing, he was not PVS. Unless that diagnosis would include someone who is awake and able to respond to questions. And who can respond appropriately — even laugh. Several therapy options were proposed for him, but denied. But, yes, he was unable physically to take care of himself. And he could not verbally speak. The story is way too long to share — but his wife did lose her request to legally remove his feeding tube all the way to the door of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  3. @Abby #2
    By no means! Go back to the top–it is protesting against this trend, while describing it for those who are unaware of these issues. See where it starts, “Care must never be denied.”

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